News at Tipitaka Network
Help with a bow
The Economist, Thursday, May 29, 2008
THE natural disasters that recently befell Myanmar and China have tested the willingness of both stricken countries to let in foreign helpers. Western relief organisations are still waiting to see whether Myanmar's armed forces meant what they said when they promised to let in all aid workers, regardless of nationality. China, though quick to accept money and material from the West, was slower to let in its people. But whereas Western do-gooders have queued for entry, volunteers from Taiwan's non-governmental organisations (NGOs) received a warmer welcome. A chartered relief mission from Taipei, led by a Burmese-born Buddhist monk, was among the first to land in Yangon, Myanmar's main city. In China, emergency workers from a Taiwanese foundation were among the first to reach Sichuan. This first-responder feat is all the more remarkable given the political impasse between China and Taiwan.
Disaster relief plays to the strengths of Taiwan's NGOs. They have plenty of experience coping with earthquakes and typhoons at home, and can mobilise legions of volunteers at short notice. Operating in a vibrant democracy that encourages civil society is also handy, as is the charitable impulse of many Taiwanese. This is often channelled into Buddhist philanthropy, which troubles receiving countries less than the proselytising zeal that comes attached to some brands of Christian charity. Paradoxically, Taiwan's diplomatic isolation helps: its aid agencies can plead neutrality in countries such as Myanmar.
The largest NGO in Taiwan—and by all accounts in the Chinese-speaking world—is the Tzu Chi Foundation, which has dozens of international chapters, around 10m supporters and annual donations of $300m. In Taiwan it runs hospitals, schools, a university, recycling centres and one of the world's largest bone-marrow banks. It began overseas relief work in 1991, responding to flooding along China's Yangzi river (长江). Initially, its offer of help got a cool response from both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Critics at home asked why they wanted to aid “the enemy”. Eventually both sides relented, and China is now the biggest overseas recipient of Tzu Chi's low-key largesse. Earlier this year, it finally got a licence to operate freely as a 100%-foreign NGO, a first for China, it claims.
With projects in dozens of countries, Tzu Chi is starting to resemble its Western counterparts, except that its aid workers are trained volunteers who pay their own way to disaster zones. Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun who founded the organisation in 1966, teaches that charitable givers must thank those they help in person, preferably with a bow. That is not just a wonderful bit of courtesy. It is also a way to make sure that aid reaches its recipients, rather than ending up in the hands of an unworthy government.
source: http://www.economist.com/world/ asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11455853
Buddhist News Features:
Thursday, May 7, 2020 Vesak Extra!
Sunday, May 19, 2019 Vesak Extra!
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Vesak Extra!
Introduction of Graeco-Buddhism: The Gandhara School of Art
Early Buddhist artisans: Skilled, well-read and privileged
Japan`s ancient vegetarian meal
Buddhism and economics
Buddhist bishop invites Catholics to join in peace day bell ringing
Buddhist temple fighting COVID`s challenges
S. Korea`s oldest statue of monk to be designated a national treasure
Ask the Teachers: How do we determine what is true dharma?
Historic class of diverse dharma teachers graduates
Fall exhibition in Kyoto to display rare cultural works to public
King Udayana religious financial reformer of ancient Bali
Buddhism and Buddhist Studies in Sweden
Lee Mack launches new podcast on Buddhism and mindfulness
Integrating dharma practice in Spanish
Siem Reap art exhibit invites introspection through nature
Buddha painting returns to Sinheung temple
Emeritus Prof. Asanga Tilakaratne: An outstanding luminary
Kyoto`s temple opens up restricted areas to draw tourists
From hearts to hearts: An interview with Ven. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
Excavation of Buddhist site; Dillu Roy unveils ancient town planning
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa.
Buddha sāsana.m cira.m ti.t.thatu.